all the courage of abattoir workers

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    'Body parts everywhere' in Fallujah
    Posted Tue, 09 Nov 2004

    "Body parts everywhere!" cries a US soldier as a shell crashes onto a group of suspected rebels in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, where a punishing torrent of firepower thundered down on Tuesday.

    More than 500 rounds of 155-millimetre Howitzer cannon shells have been fired on the besieged Sunni stronghold west of Baghdad since a US-Iraqi offensive to take control of the city started on Monday evening, said Sergeant Michael Hamby.

    Using a global positioning system, each shell is precision aimed and fired at insurgent spots, while unmanned reconnaisance aircraft check whether the target was hit and feed back the information, Hamby told AFP.

    Unconfirmed estimates suggest that as many as 100 000 residents of Fallujah could still be inside the city.

    In the northwestern Jolan neighbourhood alone - branded the hotbed of insurgent activity in Fallujah - US forces unleashed more than 20 air strikes and some 60 artillery rounds on Monday, said Major Todd Desgrosseilliers.

    "We probably had 20-to-30 air strikes in the Jolan and probably two-to-three times that in artillery missions," he said.

    Attack helicopters swooped overhead, dropping flares on buildings from where the muzzle of insurgent rocket heads jutted out.

    "Nothing is being indiscriminately fired at. These are spots where they (militants) are either getting ready to fight or already are," the major said.

    Further demonstrating its superior firepower, the military said it fired an air-to-surface missile on a suspected insurgent building in Fallujah on Monday.

    "The building was destroyed and enemy fire ceased," it said in a statement.

    Casualty figures were unavailable from Fallujah, where estimates for the number of its 300 000-strong population who fled ahead of the long-threatened assault vary widely from 20 to 90 percent.

    US warplanes pounded suspected rebel targets in the city over the past few weeks with air strikes on a daily basis in the build-up to the assault.

    An AFP reporter in the Jolan district said one building in every 10 had been flattened. As US-led troops closed in on the neighbourhood overnight, at least four 900-kilogram bombs were dropped in the city's northwest.

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